There is sometimes a yawning gulf between what you can reasonably hope for, and what you realistically expect. The announcement of the first three members of the nascent Integrity Commission is a fine example.
All three are currently high-level, and presumably very busy, Tasmanian public servants, hardly an ideal launch pad for an assault on the Augean Stables.
The three are: Ombudsman Simon Allston, Auditor-General Mike Blake, and acting State Service Commissioner Iain Frawley. I have encountered two of them.
I made a complaint to Mr Allston a few years ago regarding the Meander Valley Council’s formal policy of objecting to no PTR applications. Mr Allston responded by denying there was anything amiss with the policy. I replied that the Council had no legal right to fetter itself from its own, albeit limited, statutory powers, and that the presence of at least four councilors with known financial or organisational links to the logging industry put the legality of their policy in further doubt.
Mr Allston then replied that that his earlier response had been written by a subordinate, that his own view was that the policy was not valid, and that he had so advised the council of this. After I later replied that the council was continuing to observe the policy, Mr Allston advised me that he would no longer correspond with me.
I observed Mr Blake over the land swap between FT and the State government. The problem there was that nearly 78,000 ha of State Forest (Crown land) plantation had been surreptitiously deeded in freehold to FT under an agreement in which they were thereby required to surrender freehold land of equal value to the crown. When the Land Services Department could throw no light on where its vast area of newly land was, the Australian Financial Review published an article asking that question.
Mr Blake then commenced an inquiry into the murky deal, finally reporting that, although he could not identify the physical location of land that had been surrendered, he was satisfied that the everything was in order. The 78,000 ha of plantation also disappeared from FT’s inventory, though the leaked copies of the titles they were on survive.
I know nothing about Mr Frawley, but I think I know enough already to abandon hope that the Bartlett government had changed its ethical spots.